The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Martech Agency Culture Agency Models

6 things B2B marketers need to know about influencers

By Scott Gillum, Carbon Design

August 11, 2022 | 5 min read

B2B marketers need to pay more attention to influencers, writes Carbon Design chief executive Scott Gillum. Here is who you need to target and, more importantly, how to do it.


Influencers can benefit your business / Adobe Stock

Business-to-business (B2B) marketing campaigns often die before they ever launch. Why? Because marketers often target titles, roles and budget owners to influence sales. And that would be fine if marketing’s job was to sell. It’s not. Our goal is to grab someone’s attention and have them take action, by either clicking a link, downloading content or registering for a webinar. Simply targeting roles or titles doesn’t necessarily help us make that happen.

Do you know what does? Targeting behaviors, specifically ‘influencer’ personalities who constantly scan the horizon for information. I’m not talking about industry, social or expert influencers. Rather, I’m referring to influencers as people who demonstrate a lot of influence in their personality, as opposed to the other DISC personality traits, which are dominance, steadiness and conscientiousness.

Now, how do you find them? With today’s martech-enabled world, it’s easy. Use a personality profiling tool such as IBM Watson or xiQ. They’re also very easy to identify in your existing engagement data. Many influencers are tagged in lead-nurturing programs right now. Influencers are motivated by being the first to know, and then sharing the information with others. For example, we recently found a C-level Influencer who forwarded an email invitation to a webinar over 30 times.

Influencers are marketing’s most important audience, because they not only consume a lot of content, but they also route and validate habits. A C-level influencer forwarding an email to a direct report gets their attention and their interest.

This brings us to the downside of influencers: they don’t own the problem or opportunity that the information addresses, and their role as ‘visionaries’ is one of the reasons why they over-index for higher-level positions in organizations. Influencers don’t ‘own’ or fix problems; they find solutions. Here’s how to get the most out of leveraging influencers in the account:

1. Give them the right assets

Influencers prefer short, highly-visual content that travels easily. They love short, animated videos and infographics that they can forward, as well as learning opportunities for people, such as events or webinar invitations that travel well, as mentioned above.

2. Find them in your data

Since influencers forward information, it’s easy to spot them in your data. Look for emails that have been opened multiple times over a two- to three-day period. Once you’ve identified them, see if that pattern repeats on other occasions.

3. Tag and track them

You can also use persistent uniform resource locators, or forms, to track where they’re sending information. This is a key insight, as sharing (or forwarding) is a much better indicator of interest than a download or click-thru. But that comes with a caveat: where the information lands has to resonate or address an issue that person currently has. Unfortunately, due to their habits, they can forward more information than can be actioned.

4. Sell them on the idea, not the solution

In all our research over the years, we’ve only had one situation where an influencer got blocked. Influencers want ‘credit’ for the idea and, in this case, they felt threatened that someone else introduced a solution that they should have known about. When pitching the influencer, step back and make your idea or solution become their idea. Make them shine in situations with their peers.

5. Give away ideas

One of our most important clients has an influencer personality and a chief marketer title, but he’s never signed a contract. Give away free advice. It will usually come back to you in business from others within the organization.

6. Use them to remove blockers

Influencers are present at the beginning of the buyer’s journey, and they will reappear at the end to reinforce the solution’s value. Influencers, hence the name, are masterful at selling others on the idea. Keep them posted on your progress and use them to get past blockers in the buyer group.

Finally, know that influencers love your solutions more than they love you, your company or your brand. It’s nothing personal – it’s just their personality. Influencers play an important role for us marketers. They react and take action. It’s not personal for us either – it’s just the type of personality that gets us the performance we need.

Scott Gillum is the founder and chief executive officer of personality-based marketing agency Carbon Design.

For more, sign up for The Drum’s daily US newsletter here.

Martech Agency Culture Agency Models

More from Martech

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +